Ler On Loop
Season 47 got off to a limp as Grilled failed to take any points from the newbies ground, though that was not wholly unexpected considering the hosts' heavy reinforcements in recent months, which have seen them go S$10 million into the hole.
Former U-20 forward Ge Hanjin was their latest purchase at S$5 million, and while he didn't score on his league debut, Ge had a big part to play in newbies' opener. He was the target towards which strike partner Roshadi lumped the ball towards. Ge outjumped Madaini to help it on to the unmarked Ler Ho Yi, and the Grilled players mostly stood ball-watching as Ler took aim to score for the fourth time in five meetings.
The Birds suddenly looked vulnerable despite starting with four in defence for once, and the normally dependable Lin Jungui
made a hash of a routine pass when he stroked it right to the feet of Isa Ansori bin Saiban instead of Vukota Crkvenjakov
, who had moved. Both the guilty parties chased Isa in vain, as the former Chemistry man sidestepped Dexter Stacey
to place the ball home.
The Grilled travelling fans feared the worst after seeing their side deflated by two goals in fifteen minutes, but strangely the second goal had a revitalizing effect on the players. Despite being badly outnumbered, the overworked midfield began to give newbies things to worry about, and Tan Ying Eng was at one point forced to put the ball out of play, after the whistle had gone, to buy time.
All that effort paid off before half-time, and it was captain Gleb Dorogan
who led the way with a smash-and-grab raid in the 37th minute. There was little finesse in the way that the Grilled attackers flooded the box, but there was certainly a huge element of surprise, which gave the 30 year-old Moldovan the time and space needed to make the first strike on goal count.
Grilled entered the dressing room perhaps the happier side, but their confidence lasted only minutes into the second half, when it became prevalent that newbies were intent on keeping the ball and protecting their lead.
Faced with such vast experience and numbers in the middle, Grilled's players could do little to win the ball back, and not even the introduction of Zhu Changchun
for Vukota made much of a dent in newbies' possession. The only saving grace was that newbies barely managed a shot themselves in the second half, but when you're leading, that is not generally a problem.